Cleveland Grotto’s History

Local caving clubs affiliated with the NSS are called Grottos. Established in 1944 and chartered in 1945, the Cleveland Grotto is the oldest continuously active Grotto in the country. The Cleveland Grotto meets monthly and keeps in touch with its members via newsletter and this website, in addition to a number of organized activities.  These activities include cave conservation efforts, in addition to many educational and recreational pursuits.

Notes From Our Past

Some notes from the earliest days of our Grotto:

Nov 17, 1944 Grotto Constitution approved by Grotto Board (Wm. G. Blaha, NSS #290; Al Mislay, NSS #289; Betty A. Yoe,NSS #300; Anne Blaha, NSS #301; George Risler, NSS #297).

First officers appointed: Bill Blaha, President; Al Mislay, Vice.President; Betty Yoe, Secretary.

Nov 30, 1944 Grotto Constitution submitted by letter to Board of Governors of the NSS.

Jan 27, 1945 Bill Blaha and Al Mislay represent Cleveland Grotto at NSS annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Cleveland Grotto Charter received from the NSS.

Feb 4, 1945 First official meeting of the Cleveland Grotto after acceptance by NSS.

Mar 4, 1945 Board decided to hold Grotto meetings every 4 weeks, and Board meetings once a month.

Apr 1, 1945 Grotto solicits Geology Departments of adjoining states for their State Geological Surveys. (Response from Michigan Department of Conservation on April 5!)

Apr 15, 1945 Gordon Curry (NSS #170) joined Cleveland Grotto.
Cleveland Grotto agrees to take over publication of the NSS Newsletter.

Dec 1, 1945 Grotto publishes December issue of NSS Newsletter.
Mr. William Hill, editor of NSS Newsletter writes to ask if Betty Yoe would like to take over editorship.

Mar 2, 1946 Bill Blaha resigns as Grotto Chairman after being elected to NSS Board (rules prevented NSS Board members from being Grotto officers).
Al Mislay becomes second President of Cleveland Grotto, George Risler becomes Vice President.

There is a void in the record from Mar 1946 until Nov, 1950.

Nov 15, 1950 Bill Blaha is President of  the Cleveland Grotto again.
Grotto dues are set at $1.00 per year (NSS dues are $5.00)
Grotto meetings are scheduled for once a month (third Wednesday) at Natural History Museum.
The Grotto makes plans for a booth at the 1951 Cleveland Sportsmen’s Show at Public Auditorium.

Mar 28, 1951 Grotto treasury depleted (all $8.90) on the Sportsmen’s Show. Members each donated $2.50 to replentish.
Bill Blaha and George Risler selected to represent Cleveland Grotto at Third Annual Speleological Congress, Charleston,  West Virginia.

Apr 18, 1951 Grotto holds open meeting for those who expressed interest in caving at the Sportsmen’s Show.
Wilmer McCavit (NSS #1804) and Cecil Dobbins (NSS #1806) join Grotto.

Jun 20, 1951 Bob and Dorothea Franks (NSS #1869, 1870) join Grotto.

Jul 18, 1951 Ray Setteur (NSS #1884) joins Grotto via letter from Ohio State (indicating in letter that he had located some caves near Columbus).

Aug 15, 1951 Marvin Childs (NSS #1879) joins Grotto.

Oct 17, 1951 Proposed trip to newly discovered Con Cave in Pennsylvania (discovered by NSS member Dick Hoffmaster).

Feb 20, 1952 Bill Blaha given title of Honorary President, for many years of service and being first Grotto president.

Jun 18, 1952 Owner of Dulaney’s Cave (Now Laurel Caverns) offers Cleveland Grotto use of land near cave to build a cabin for Grotto use only.

Aug 20, 1952 Grotto member Richard Earhart submits list of Ohio Caves he compiled. List contains 58 entries.

Nov 19, 1952 Grotto received letter from Bob Ruffing, describing newly discovered Lemon Hole cave, near Bear Cave, Pennsylvania.

Dec, 1952 Grotto membership list shows 35 members (includes John Ulrich, no mention of when he joined).

Mar 18, 1953 Sgt. Roger Brucker of Yellow Springs, Ohio reported on his work with State Geology Dept on a Cave Survey of Ohio.

Jul 15, 1953 Grotto members urged to attend NSS Labor Day “Old Timer’s Convention” at Davis, West Virginia (what subsequently became Old Timer’s Reunion)

Aug 19, 1953 Report on progress in commercialization of Dulaney Cave.

Jan 20, 1954 Grotto dues still $1.00/year.
Agreed to establish Cleveland Grotto newspaper; Doug Stancombe appointed editor, Dick Smith co-editor.

Mar 17, 1954 First issue of Cleveland Grotto News distributed. Contest established to name the paper.

Apr 21, 1954 Betty Yoe wins newsletter naming contest with the name “Cleve-O-Grotto News “

Jun 16, 1954 Walter Simonet (NSS #2225) joins Grotto.
Bob Franks shows 3-D slides of Mystic Cave, Smoke Hole Caverns, Copperhead Cave and the 1953 Old Timer’s Convention in Davis West Virginia.

Oct 20, 1954 Grotto orders three 30′ cable ladders, to be custom made with 15″ rung spacing instead of the standard 18″ spacing.
Grotto members map Panther Cave, at Whipps Ledges, Hinckley Reservation.

Feb 17, 1955 Discussions about the impact of national publicity on caving – sport vs. scientific thrust.
Cecil Dobbins offers hard hats for sale by his company for $1.50 each.

Apr 20, 1955 Wilmer McCavit “retires,” Harold Lenz appointed treasurer pro tem.

Aug 17, 1955 Meeting attendance had been poor of late; July meeting cancelled for lack of attendance.
Anne Blaha resigns as editor of the Cleve-O-Grotto News . Betty Yoe resigns as Grotto president.

Sep 10, 1955 Program plan suggested by Board in effort to bolster attendance.
Board decided to publish one more issue of the Cleve-O-Grotto News , then suspend indefinitely until “this matter is clarified.” [Not clear whether the “matter” was the poor attendance or something else.]

Jan 7, 1956 Grotto Board votes to join the Mid Appalachian Region “until an Ohio Region is formed, at which time we will withdraw.”
The Cleve-O-Grotto News resumes publication on a bi-monthly basis.

Sep 19, 1956 Report on 1956 Old Timer’s Convention in Franklin indicated total attendance of 80 people.

Oct 15, 1956 Betty Yoe marries Ted Bolczak.

Apr 1, 1957 Wilmer McCavit and Ray Setteur plan to leave for six month uranium prospecting trip in “the West.”

Oct 16, 1957 Grotto membership in the Mid Appalachian Region is disapproved; associate membership is offered (accepted on Oct 20).